Letters to the Editor

Student test scores wrong way to measure teachers

I disagree with proposals to tie teacher evaluations to the outcomes of standardized testing as evidenced in ESSB 5748 and SB 5749. Granted, some things are easier to assess via standardized testing than others. As an adult, I have come to believe that the most important things are not among them, such as character. Wisely, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium recognizes limitations to its testing. Do you?

Standardized tests are not accurate portrayals of many children’s intellect – for instance, those whose aptitudes are outside the three Rs such as kinesthetic, artistic, or musical-intellects. Also those challenged by fine motor skill activities such as typing. The latter represents yet another opportunity for disproportionate test results based upon socioeconomic status; those with a home computer can conveniently take practice tests and work on keyboarding skills.

Tying teacher salaries to test results exacerbates the marginalization of these groups. It discourages teaching to certain populations such as special education students or those with an Individualized Education Plan who could, as a group, be expected score lower.

Let’s put resources into paraeducators and reduced class-sizes; let’s put resources into diminishing the impacts of poverty. Let’s see whether giving children positive, education-based attention rather than a standardized tests can enhance learning and alter SBAC’s expectation of “passing” less than half of the students taking it (and in some instances failing nearly 70 percent of the test takers).

Sharonne O’Shea

Olympia

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